Feeling overwhelmed? Go outside and look at the sky. Feeling frustrated? Go take a walk and hug a tree. Feeling uninspired? Go to the park and look at the squirrels.
Somehow it seems that most of our problems can be fixed with putting on our shoes and stepping outside our door. And in many cases, it is (annoyingly) true.
Why is that? What is it that makes going out in nature a cure too many of our modern afflictions?
WHAT IS ART?
ART seems to be one of the answers.
Not Art as in painting and photography (even though we are convinced this helps too). ART as in Attention Restoration Theory. A psychological concept brought to light in the 80s by psychologists Rachel and Stephen Kaplan.
The theory proposes that exposure to natural environments can help restore depleted cognitive resources and improve overall well-being that would have been suffering and depleting in urban environments and due to our modern lifestyles.
Kaplans identified two types of attention:
directed attention: the kind that require efforts and the use of cognitive resources. If we are directly attentive for long period of times we can reach mental fatigue.
Involuntary or Soft fascination: that is the effortless type of attention. This is what happens when we are exposed to natural environment. It gives the mind a rest and helps it recover from attention fatigue.
ATTENTION RESTORATION THEORY & RETREATS
This is obviously music to our ears but it is also nothing new to us, running nature retreats all year round. We have seen and experienced the benefits first hand.
How you do something is how you do everything they say. Well we say, where you do things matters too.
People are in better moods, less exhausted after a day of workshop, more creative and overall feeling better than if they had stayed at the office or in a hotel in the city where distraction is everywhere and human connections low.
Concretely, well facilited nature retreats can bring:
Cognitive Restoration: retreats are not all about fun and relaxation. They are also for working and brainstorming. Doing that surrounded by nature will help your team to rest and recuperate better in between workshops!
2. Stress Reduction: That's an easy one. Nature helps you relax. And that is backed by science.
3. Enhanced Creativity: Exposure to natural environments is known for enhancing creativity. So a nature retreat is the perfect place to come and think outside the box!
4. Team Bonding: Because we are less stressed, more rested and more creative, it is usually easier to drop the masks and genuinely bond with one another.
5. Increased Productivity: That's an interesting one because one might think that taking time to spend in nature is "wasted productivity" but at the end of the day, a team that collaborates better, that is more innovative and less stressed can do wonders when back at the office!
6. Overall Well-Being: Simply put, breathing the fresh air, walking in the forest, working out together... it all helps improve the overall mental health and wellbeing of the individual.
So next time you're thinking about a team retreat, do not forget about the power of ART.